Let’s take a moment to be fully honest. Think about where you were one year ago in terms of your health, fitness and overall body composition, and think about what your goal was at that time. Did you want to build muscle, lose fat? Or was your goal vague as in “I wanna look ripped, skinny or lean”? Now take a moment and ask yourself this: what have you actually done in the past year, if anything, to achieve that goal? This may be a tough one for you, but be truthful and really evaluate what positive changes you’ve actually made and stuck with, and what you just let go of.
Most of us start out with the best intentions; we hear about some new trend or see someone go through a physical transformation, get inspired and then say to ourselves “I wanna look like that, I’m gonna try that diet/cleanse/workout and finally get the body I’ve always wanted”. How long does that actually last? Some give up after a day, others it’s a week or two, while some actual last longer, get the dream body but then slip back into old habits only to find themselves right back to where they started. Why does this terrible pattern keep happening? Well there are actually two reasons: for starters, we live in a world of convenience where we take the elevator (instead of the stairs), drive cars everywhere (instead of walking/biking), eat out or order in because we work super long hours and don’t have time to cook, watch way too much tv because it’s super entertaining (shows are far better than they were way back when) and as a result spend the bulk of the day sitting down living a perpetual sedentary life. The second reason is fairly obvious; we are continuously bombarded with marketing schemes, advertisements and social media that provides an information overload on a mix of quick fix diets and/or fast food limited time offers that can make even the most disciplined “health-nut” swoon (smores oreo cookies anyone?). All of this has created a generation consisting of a mix of obese or skinny-fat individuals; either one is totally unhealthy.
Now I can admit that I have been there many times, in fact my idea of being healthy has changed so much over my 29 years that I have actually started to lose count of all of the yo-yo diets, trendy workouts and binging that I have done. But I can say with totally honesty that in the last decade I have finally managed to educate myself and maintain not only healthy body composition, but a healthy outlook as well. As a result, I don’t binge anymore or sneak in those little bites here and there of French fries or cookies (unless it’s part of a treat meal that only happens on occasion and is calculated into my regiment), I exercise 5-6 days each week (mostly weight training with some cardio) and have never been in better shape than right now.
There are a few steps that you ought to take into consideration though before you start your next fitness/nutrition program. First off, think about your goal and be specific; do you want to lose fat and keep it off forever? Do you want to build muscle and maintain it? Whatever you decide, think long term and keep in mind that it will not happen overnight or in the span of a few weeks, it takes a lot of time, but you will feel better, stronger and more focused if you stick with it. You have two legit options when it comes to making this happen: either completely overhaul your lifestyle from what it is right now, or work with what you’ve got. If you choose the former, before you get started think about whether you want to go all out one shot and change everything or take baby steps and gradually replace bad habits with healthier ones. Be real with yourself here and go with whatever you know will actually work with you for the rest of your life. If you choose the latter option and decide to work with what you’ve got, then you need to make a plan for yourself asap. If you already have a jam packed schedule (which you probably do), then I suggest you take a few hours each week to cook big batches of healthy meals and snacks and separate them into sealable containers and bags so you are good to go food-wise. The next step is to make a workout schedule and stick to it; whatever time of day works best for you is when you should workout, break it up throughout the day if you have to, but be consistent here and make it happen. Don’t just do cardio; you have to lift weights too. I cannot stress enough the importance of weightlifting, whether you are a man or woman, are in your mid twenties or early sixties, it makes no difference so pick up those weights. There are countless health benefits and it’s never too late to get started. Always keep in mind that muscle is more dense than fat, which is why a few years ago when I was 120lbs (at 5ft1) with a body fat percentage at 25% (which is in the healthy range) I looked “softer” than I do now at the same weight but with a much lower body fat percentage. Everything is firmer, even when I’m not flexing, my abdominal muscles actually show and all of my clothes feel looser than before. You may only be able to work with 2lbs dumbbells at first (as I did when I first started), but you will build strength overtime.
What I chose to do was overhaul my lifestyle, certain things I did one shot and others I adopted gradually and changed as I went along. Likewise for my fiancé; we both went from only talking about going clubbing and what our favorite shots were to talking about the best protein shakes and the proper form for completing a Romanian deadlift (among other exercises) pretty much overnight. I am amazed at how far we’ve both come in our ten and a half years together; my fiancé went from having a beer belly to weighing in at 300lbs at 5ft11 with only 8% body fat. It has taken us many years to get to this point and we’re always adapting our habits to make more changes and maintain what we’ve already achieved. It’s not easy at all, but then again nothing anybody has ever achieved in their life has ever been easy, so think about that the next time you feel lazy and start whining about how you’re just too busy to workout so you’ll just order a pizza instead. One kinda funny thing that happened without me even noticing in the past year, is that I watch far less tv than I used to and as fun as it is to get pulled into a great storyline, I can honestly say that I really don’t feel like I am missing out at all.
Remember to always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any kind of regiment, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed and confused. Take some time out to really think about what you want and how you can actually get there and stay there. If you happen to be thinking about how cutting out alcohol, fast food and desert is no way to live, then you may want to think about how going through life always feeling bloated, tired and generally icky is really no way to live. Pull yourself together, make a plan and get to it!
So, are you ready for a real change?
Start It, Finish It